Sunday, June 21, 2009

Absolutely Faithful

The below is a sermon that I delivered a week ago. I believe it important enough to publish as part of this series.

It had been announced that President Obama would quote these words in his address to Moslem Countries while in Cairo this week. These words were to have appeared around the six minute mark of his speech, and were to resonate throughout his address and set the tone for his address, billed as “The Most Important Presentation from the United States to the Moslem States… Ever”. The statement that was to have been read is:
“A Jewish state must be absolutely faithful to the Land of Israel -- the Land that was promised in its Biblical borders to the Fathers of the Nation by the Creator of the world -- and includes the understanding of the positive connection between the Land and the ability of the Nation of Israel to fulfill its earthly goals”.

These words, attributed to the Manhigut Yehidit, the Jewish Leadership Movement, headed by Moshe Feiglin ring true today as they would have if written thousands of years ago, must be taken as serious words.

“A Jewish state must be absolutely faithful to the Land of Israel…”
What does this mean to us? To me, this means that Israel stands where Israel is. We will not move away. We will not abandon our homeland. We will not abandon our “moledet”. And – ERETZ YISRAEL IS OUR MOLEDET. Not Uganda. Not South America. Not somewhere in the middle of the Sudan, as others have suggested, but להיות עם חפשי בארצינו, ארץ ציון ירושלים. To be a FREE PEOPLE in OUR LAND, the land of Israel.

Chaverai—These words are not the problem. That the President never said these words, or that they somehow managed to magically disappear from his speech are not the problem. The problem is, yedidai—The problem is, my friends, that these words were advertised to be addressed TO the Moslem World, FROM the President of the United States, and they were not.
They certainly were NOT at the 6 minute mark, nor at the 16 minute mark; nor at the 20 minutes mark. At the 24 minute mark, he gives us credit for a little under a minute. He mentions that we have suffered as a people. That we survived the Shoah. That we have been persecuted. And? IMMEDIATELY he switches sides and for the next seven minutes, talks about how the "Palestinians" are mistreated, persecuted, their land taken, and finally, how a State of their own is an absolute necessity.

Maybe it is. Maybe it is a necessity. Is it? I don’t know, really. The Arab residents of the region were handed land by the English in 1919. It was called TransJordan. A piece of land four times the size of the land offered us by the King’s throne. In 1922, the British reestablished borders and they received more land. In 1948, upon our Declaration of Independence they received yet more land. And continued to attack us in both organized military exercises in 1956 across the Suez; in forcing us to cause a pre-emptive attack in 1967, where, by the grace of G-d, their campaign was stopped in its tracks and we gained land in the Sinai, Gaza, Yehuda and The Shomron (Judah and Samaria) and the Golan Heights, vital to our survival as under our control, terrorists and snipers are unable to sit on a hill and fire bullets into our school yards and Kibbutzim.

In 1973, while we davened in Betei Knesset—While some of you sat in the EXACT spot where you now sit, we were brutally attacked as we prayed in silence and asked G-d שמע קןלנו. Hear our Voices. Please.

"A Jewish state must be absolutely faithful to the Land of Israel -- the Land that was promised in its Biblical borders to the Fathers of the Nation by the Creator of the world -- and includes the understanding of the positive connection between the Land and the ability of the Nation of Israel to fulfill its earthly goals -. "

This, chaverai. This is vital that we understand: Israel was not granted the opportunity to declare independence because of the Shoah; This was NOT our reconciliation gift – This land – OUR land, was promised in its Biblical borders to the Fathers of the Nation by the Creator of the world. Period. And now, now the responsibility is upon US to keep our land as להיות עם חפשי בארצינו. As a FREE PEOPLE IN OUR LAND, for HAD ISRAEL BEEN ESTABLISHED PRIOR TO THE SHOAH, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO SHOAH. There would have been no Shoah. There would have been no Holocaust.

Let us close our eyes for but a moment; and imagine a world in which six million lives had been permitted to carry on. A world in which six million people would have married, and reproduced, nurtured maybe, another three million children, who would have married and brought to the world another… How many? In Poland alone, we now number LESS than 25,000. In Lithuania, there are less than 4,000 Jews left.

In Eretz Yisrael, we number 5,593,000. And we are still too few.

There is… There is room for all of us. Even if it is for just a short time. A week, two? A month? A summer? A winter? Then maybe 6 months out of the year? Maybe a year?? Maybe a lifetime???

A few weeks ago, the Shabbat following Yom HaAtzmaut, we discussed our hope. תקותינו. We discussed how after all of these years we have yet to lose our hope. And now I ask you… I ask you to be absolutely faithful. We must be absolutely faithful to the Land of Israel; We must be absolutely faithful to G-d, and in turn, we must be absolutely faithful to our families and loved ones, our Synagogues, Churches or any place where we find ease in addressing and performing our service of belief. Most of all, we must be. We need to be, we strive to be and we absolutely MUST BE faithful to our faith.
And, faithful to ourselves. For, G-d, הקדוש ברוך הוא, has faith in us.
I wish you a good week. Shavuah tov from the Midbar that we call Arizona...

Ahavah u'Vrachot... Peace and Blessings,


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Apologies, Teshuvuah, Slichot and Forgiveness Requested

Once every so often, and lately more than I would like to be the case, I find myself asking for Slichot, for forgiveness for doing something out of character, saying something that could have hurt someone, acting a certain way that is not in line with who I am supposed to be, or whom I am thought that I must be to work in my chosen field, or even, to be considered a good Jew.

I find myself now again in that situation over a post or two on this blog from last week, where I once again proved myself to be... Human. And in being "human", I felt emotion(s). In this instance, I felt anger, frustration, misdirection, sadness, betrayal and most of all, I felt that some around me were apathetic to a situation that I believe, we care about with similar emotion and importance.

Yet, last week, I blew it. Plain and simple. The situation is not really that important - well, it is, but not something to hash and rehash, especially when the result will not change.

I felt slighted, as did many people who knew what had happened and I reacted. Without thinking and in using this forum, I reacted, which caused more than a few heads to turn, and without even naming names, I was accused of naming names, outing and embarrassing individuals that were not named, nor outed, nor by innuendo even mentioned. Apparently they believe otherwise, so I accept it. So be it. I made a mistake.

I now ask forgiveness, slichot and intend on doing Teshuvah to repent and atone. This, is a given. My question, and my real problem in all of this is, and seriously, not to be glib, but to ask for my own personal knowledge in an attempt to learn: At what point are we permitted to be human? And, if such a point exists, how human are we permitted to be? As Rabbanim, as Judaic and Torah Educators (we are obviously held to higher standards), but at what point, if any, are we permitted to say: HOLD ON, WE HAVE RIGHTS ALSO?

In retrospect, I assume that we have no real wiggle room here, as we constantly remain in a position of believing that we must please everyone all of the time. And that, my friends is okay. Just as long as I know the ground rules.

So, at this point, and in all sincerity, I ask for the forgiveness of anyone that I may have slighted in my post of Thursday, or of last week, three weeks ago, last year, yesterday or today, for that matter. I am sorry. This early in the game, I am going to be human. Maybe more than you would prefer, and for this I apologize.
During my first experience with a Congregant who had passed away in my presence, I had a very difficult discussion with my Rabbi, my dear friend and mentor and asked him if this - if death, gets any easier. He answered pointedly and truthfully. He said, "I hope not." I agreed.

I first apologize for being human and making human mistakes. I apologize for writing (speaking) without thinking it through and cooling off, and I apologize if any one person feels singled out due to my writings of last week.

I also thank you, however, for allowing me to be human. Otherwise, I could not feel what you need for me to feel, when you need for me to feel it.

Ahava u'Vrachot...